AbFero Ltd will receive approximately €2 million ($2.41 million) through Eureka Network’s Eurostars program to complete pre-clinical testing of SP-420, a potential disease-modifying therapy for Parkinson’s disease, and to develop other iron-removing compounds.
“This grant is an important step forward for AbFero as we test our portfolio of iron chelating compounds in central nervous system indications,” Thomas Neenan, CEO of AbFero, said in a press release.
“With three Phase 1 clinical trials complete, this funding will accelerate our drive to a Phase 2 trial of SP-420 in Parkinson’s patients, for whom disease modifying agents remain much needed,” he added.
Disease-modifying therapies target the underlying cause of a condition.
SP-420 is a small molecule designed to clear excess iron from the body by binding to, or chelating it. It crosses the blood-brain barrier, potentially enabling it to remove the iron that accumulates to toxic amounts in the brains of Parkinson’s patients.
This toxic accumulation causes oxidative stress, or cellular damage due to high levels of oxidant molecules, an iron-dependent kind of cell death called ferroptosis, and contributes to alpha-synuclein aggregation — all hallmarks of Parkinson’s disease.
Past studies have shown that excess iron can predict the severity of Parkinson’s and its cognitive decline, and can lead to worsening symptoms. These and other findings have made removing iron by chelation an attractive therapeutic approach.
The company now plans to complete a pre-clinical proof-of-performance of SP-420 in Parkinson’s disease.
AbFero has assembled an international consortium of researchers to help advance its project, which it calls “Novel Parkinson’s Disease Therapy Targeting Iron-related Cell Death and Alpha-synuclein Aggregation.”
Members include Pier G. Mastroberardino, PhD, of the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands; David Devos, PhD, of the University Hospital of Lille, in France; and Jan Kehr, PhD, CEO of Pronexus Analytical. Finally, David Ashford Jones, director of Parkinson’s research at AbFero Pharmaceuticals, will manage the project.
“This exciting research is a huge step forward in the development of targeted therapies for Parkinson’s. Not only does this particular therapy hold promise, but it will also increase our knowledge of what causes Parkinson’s, and it will help us identify more treatments to improve the lives of people with the condition,” said David Dexter, associate director of research at Parkinson’s UK.
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